‘McGrath, Murali the best I’ve faced’- Sarwan
By Avenash Ramzan
Retired Guyana and West Indies batsman, Ramnaresh Sarwan, has highlighted Glenn McGrath and Muttiah Muralitharan as the best bowlers he faced during his 13-year international career.
The 36-year-old made the disclosure to media operatives during a brief interaction following his retirement announcement on Thursday at his old school, Stella Maris Primary on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.
McGrath, the tall Australian fast bowler, and Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan spin wizard, were both in their prime when Sarwan played a pivotal role for the West Indies at number three. Being the outstanding bowlers they were, both obviously provided a stern test for Sarwan.
“With McGrath, whether you were playing at Bourda, at the Stadium or worse even in Australia, you never felt that you were in. You always felt that you would get out at any point in time. Don’t matter how flat the wicket is you always felt challenged and if you were to let your guard down you will get out,” Sarwan revealed.
“Murali obviously posed a different challenge with the way he spins the ball and the sort of action he bowls with, but at the latter part of my career I started to read him. But when I first played against him in Sri Lanka in six innings he got me out four times, and all four times was under that- silly mid-on and silly mid-off. He was very challenging as well, especially in Sri Lanka.”
The former Guyana and West Indies captain also reflected on the numerous memorable partnerships he shared with batting greats, Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
“Brian of course we know is great, Shiv is also great, but I think Brian was in a different class by himself and being able to spend time at the crease with him and being able to question him, I tend to pattern my approach the way he did,” Sarwan stated.
He added, “He though me how to win matches and stuff like that. I mean when you bat in the middle you don’t really say much to each other, apart from if the ball moving in or out or if it’s spinning, but being off the field and socialising with him and stuff like that, he has guided me in terms of the way I should approach my innings, which bowler I should or shouldn’t take on…those kind of stuff. I was fortunate to have him because he thought me how to win games when we were in some impossible situation with one or two wickets in hand…how to approach bowlers…when you could recognise bowlers are tired.”
Sarwan continued, “In terms of Shiv, they’re two different types of persons. I think with Brian obviously he would socialise with you more; Shiv is more conservative- he’s a conservative player so he would tell you to be patient. Of course I tried to patient as much as I can, but with the little hot blood that’s within me I tried to bring them together, but both of them have been supportive throughout my career.”
Sarwan also spoke of the positive influence former Guyana and West Indies all-rounders Roger Harper and Carl Hooper provided during his formative years as a cricketer.
“I think the person that really moulded my career and helped me with my technique that lasted for a very, very long time was Roger Harper. Because being able to play for West Indies A team at 17 and have him as a fellow Guyanese and as someone who had played for West Indies for a long period of time, I think I was very fortunate,” Sarwan related.
He continued, “I had him 1997, 1998, 1999 and it so happened when I made my [Test] debut, Mr. Harper was there, so it was a smooth transition due to the fact that he was the coach during that whole period. Coach basically moulded me throughout that period from when I was 17 to when I was 23, and that technique that taught me throughout those six years it remained like that throughout my entire career. You would have a change here and there, but throughout my entire career I tried to keep it that way; keep it simple and obviously the way he taught me.”
But according to Sarwan, it was Hooper who first recognised his potential to become an international cricketer.
“He was the first person that told me that I would play international cricket when I was 14 when I first met him at [Georgetown Cricket Club] GCC. And from then on I took cricket seriously,” Sarwan said.
Sarwan appeared in 286 international games across the three formats for the West Indies, finishing with over 11,600 runs with 20 centuries. He averaged over 40 in both Tests and ODIs.
Cover photo caption: Glenn McGrath (left) and Muttiah Muralitharan